The Silver Service
0 comment Monday, May 5, 2014 |
Once in a blue moon, I'll get a funny pain and turn into a hypochondriac-al werewolf. Certain that something is terribly wrong with me, I'll convince myself that death is at my door. Then I start thinking about who I'll tell, who I'll ask for support. Who are the girlfriends I feel closest to? And invariably my thoughts turn to Sarah, my best friend from high school, and why we parted ways.
In high school, we were inseparable. We once persuaded a vagrant to buy us some liquor (we were under-age) by agreeing to pay him a surcharge. While we waited for him to bring us the sauce, a woman acquaintance of his stormed our car, wagging her finger at us, shaking her head. "Do you know Jessie?" she said.
Forever after that, if something bizarre was happening, Sarah and I would say to each other, "Do you know Jessie?" and crack ourselves up.
When we were in college, we visited each other's campuses. Once I drove to UNC to pick her up for a dell concert at Randolph-Macon. We sped down the highway in my mother's old Buick wagon at 93 miles an hour, singing James Taylor songs. I got a ticket, of course. Thank God we decided to forego the beer that night.
Occasionally Sarah needed "legal" advice. Although it would be years before I went to law school, she asked me what she should wear to her own speeding ticket hearing. Dress in pink, head to toe, I told her, and be sure to carry a Hello Kitty purse. She did. Our innocence project worked.
Over time, we lost track of each other until several years ago, when she moved to Dallas with her husband. I was thrilled. We picked up right where we'd left off. Although I was single and she was married, for a while it was like time had never stopped.
But not only was I single, I was flat broke. Sarah was flat not. One day she offered to buy my silver service from me, an antique my great grandfather had left me. It was pitch black with tarnish, languishing in my closet. I never used it. I needed the money.
Sure, I told her. I'd love for you to buy it. Problem was, I never polished it for her. Finally, I asked her to take it to a silver place down the street to get it polished, told her I'd pay for it.
Bad idea. The silver place down the street saw her pull up in her fancy car and decided all the silver from my service was gone. In fact, they claimed, the service needed to be completely re-dipped in silver to be worth even a penny.
This was the beginning of the end.
Having had a lot of experience with tarnish, I assured Sarah the service was perfectly fine, that I'd polish it up for her so she could see for herself. But no, she would have none of it. So I returned her money and she returned the black service, which I immediately polished until it shone (you can see it here, in my dining room). It needed no re-dipping.
After that, things changed between us and I think she always suspected I had tried to take advantage of her, sell her something defective. Sadly, it was the silver-dipping company who had tried to take advantage. Still, I should have polished the & %#@* thing for her, as I'd promised I would.
Looking back, there were a lot of things I should have done. We stayed friends for a while but it was always strained.
When she had her first child, she got a little weird on me. Or, maybe I got a little weird on her. Perhaps we both got a little weird; I'm really not sure. She was an hormonal new mom with a porcelain baby while I remained my same clueless annoying self.
Knowing what I know now, after having Mr. M, there are definitely things I would have done differently with Sarah. First-time mothers fall into a special category until we relax and realize our child is going to live in spite of us. For many of us, it's when we stop nursing and shake off the hormones. But I had no idea what she was going through at the time.
One day Sarah really snapped at me and hurt my feelings. I told her so and went home. And . . . that was it. We never spoke again.
Until about six years later, when we ran into each other by pure coincidence. That's a day I'll never forget. I'd just had a massage. My hair was all massage-oil spikey, my face puffy, an enormous circle indented on my face from the massage pillow. I looked like an electrified Nick Nolte.
After I climbed off the massage table, I staggered down the hall in my white robe. As I turned the corner, there she sat in her white robe, looking pre-massage perfect. "Sarah!" I croaked throatily. "It's me," I said to her still blank gaze.
"Oh. Oh! Hello! How are you?" she replied. We went back and forth, talked for quite a while. Finally the masseuse said she really needed to get started on Sarah so we said our goodbyes and off Sarah went.
As I was getting dressed, I thought about how much I missed her and how silly, how stupid our little spats had been.
So I left her a note with the spa lady at the front desk. "Sarah, I hate it that we've been out of touch for so long. I'd love to reconnect with you, over lunch or by phone, even by email," I wrote, "whatever you feel comfortable with," and left her my phone number and email address.
I never heard from her after that. Ever. Maybe I looked too post-massage scarey. Maybe the front desk lady forgot to give her my note (though doubtful -- I left detailed, firm instructions). Probably, though, there was just too much water under the bridge. I'll never know for sure.
But every couple of years, when I get a strange pain, I think about my old friend and I really miss her. Then, to feel just a tiny bit better, I polish the silver.